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How Long to Leave Toner in Hair? (Guide for Beginners)

How Long to Leave Toner in Hair? (Guide for Beginners)

Toning hair is key when you are trying to get a polished look and make your hair shiny and glossy even after it has been bleached and dyed. But how long should you leave it in your hair for the best result?

How long to leave toner in hair? If your hair has just been lightened, toner should be left on for 30 to 45 minutes. When toning colored hair, 5 to 20 minutes are enough to correct the tones and make your hair look fresh and shiny.

As for brassy hair, depending on the degree of brassiness, you will need to keep the toner on your hair from 15 to 35 minutes. Continue reading to learn more about toners and how and when you should use them in order not to damage your hair. 

What Is Toner And How Does It Work?

Toner for hair is a product that helps to achieve a natural-looking hair color that is not overly warm or overly cool for the person. 

Toner is the finishing touch to hair coloring treatments mainly for blonds.

However, it may be used to correct the overall tonality of the hair for brunettes and redheads too. Toner does not lift any color off of the hair. In fact, it is used either on bleached or colored hair as a ‘corrector’.

Have you ever seen shades of blond that are too warm and yellow or shades of brunette overly brassy? These are some examples of the cases when toners are used to improve and perfect the finished hair color. 

There are different toners for achieving different results. Peachy toners, for example, bring warmth to the hair, whereas purple is used to make the hair cool-toned. 

Also Read: Best Toner for Blonde Hair: 12 Top-Notch Products

When Should You Use Toner?

Toner is used after bleaching the hair to neutralize unwanted undertones. All hair colors, except for very light blonds, have warm pigments in them. These pigments are either red or orange. 

In the majority of the cases, bleach is not able to lift these pigments, especially when you are trying to be gentle with your hair and not leave it on for too long.

Thus, your hair may have unwanted undertones after the lightening session. In such cases, toner is applied to the hair before coloring it to get the desired result. 

Toners are also used once the hair is colored. If the result is not satisfying, the toner of the right shade is applied to bring the hair to a good state. 

If you decide to dye your hair at a professional hair salon, you will see that the colorist applies toner to the hair to give it the polished look you see on hair dye boxes and magazine covers.

It can be applied all over the hair, from roots to the ends of the hair strands. Or it may be applied strategically – in certain areas of the hair to create a beautiful multidimensional hair color that looks very natural. 

Toners are also used to achieve such pastel colors as shades of pink or violet. 

Types of Toners

Toners may be classified into 3 groups:


Permanent toners have a long-lasting result. They are used in cases when it is needed to completely erase the previous hair color and create a blank canvas for the color to be applied. It is recommended to refer to a hair professional for the application of permanent toners as they need to be carefully chosen. 


Demi-permanent toners are ammonia-based and have a lasting power of around 20 to 24 washes. They are more powerful than semi-permanent toners. The latter has a lasting power of up to 12 washes. The color fades gradually every time you wash it. 


Semi-permanent toners deposit color and don’t go into the hair shaft. If you don’t want to have any unfortunate experiences with toners, you should know that there are toning products only to be used at salons, and there are toning products you can use at home. 

At-home toning products, such as purple or blue shampoo or conditioner, are the most widely used toning products. They are an efficient way of maintaining the right shade of your hair color in-between your visits to the hair salon. 

Toning products used at salons are more powerful and pigmented, while at-home toning products are effective yet very delicate. 

Is Toner Bad for Your Hair?

Toners are not damaging to the hair so long as they are ammonia-free and are mixed with a developer that is not too strong. Semi-permanent toners, for example, simply deposit color and don’t go into the hair shaft. 

If you plan on using a toner that contains ammonia, make sure to give your hair some time after bleaching it. Applying ammonia-based toners on newly-bleached hair may damage it. 

It is recommended to use a toning shampoo after the pre-lightening session as it is not damaging but still capable of correcting the unwanted undertones. 

How Long to Leave Toner in Hair? 

If you want to tone your colored hair at home, you should keep the toner in your hair for 5 to 20 minutes.

Don’t overdo it. Otherwise, you may need to go to the salon to get it fixed.  To make sure you are washing your hair at the right point in time, wash a small strand of hair to see how the color has improved. 

How Long to Leave Toner in Hair after Bleaching?

When talking about toning the hair after bleaching, it is important to note that this is a job better left to the professionals. As bleached hair is already weak, it is a risk to tone it at home.

You should leave the toner on bleached hair for about 30 to 45 minutes. However, the time may vary depending on the current color of your hair, as well as the result you are looking for. 

Additionally, a lot depends on the particular toner you are using. The colorist knows the intensity of each brand and works with it accordingly.

Also Read: How to Use Hair Toner After Bleaching?

How Long to Leave Toner on Brassy Hair?

You may leave the salon with the perfect shade of blond.

However, you may notice the color-changing after every wash. As you wash your hair, brassy tones start to appear, and your hair is not the cool-toned blond anymore. Brassy tones refer to the warm tones in the hair.  

There are three degrees of brassiness – yellow, orange, and red. Depending on which ones are present in your hair, you will need to choose the right toner color.

This is done by picking the colors that are opposite to yellow, orange, and red on the color wheel.  Keep the toner on brassy hair from 15 to 35 minutes depending on the current state of your hair and the result you want to achieve. 

What Happens If I Leave Toner in My Hair Too Long?

Leaving toner on your hair for longer than indicated in the instructions will not make the result better or longer-lasting. It may result in a darker color you did not intend to achieve.

However, a lot depends on the color of the toner you are using. With purple toners, for example, the result may be a grayish-purple color. In any case, when toning your hair at home, follow the instructions on the box. And don’t exceed the recommended keeping time.

Also Read: 5 Easy Homemade DIY Hair Toner for Brassy Hair

How to Maintain Toned Hair?

Once you have toned your hair, it is important to know how to maintain it in good shape. This way, you don’t need to repeat the procedure too often. 

There are a few simple rules to follow:

  • Use hair care products that don’t contain harsh ingredients and won’t strip the color quickly. 
  • Don’t stay in the sun for too long. 
  • Don’t stay in chlorinated water for too long.
  • Minimize the usage of hot styling tools. When using, make sure to protect your hair with heat-protecting products.